Typically, when a pregnancy is realized, the mother and father begin to dream of this new one to be added to their lives, to their family. The mind allows us to imagine what it will be like to first hold this baby, to bring this little boy or girl home from the hospital. We wonder what this little one will look like; will this child have mama’s hair, or daddy’s toes? Sometimes we even project out, dreaming about the first holiday with a baby, considering what it might be like when this child goes to school. All of this is a normal part of pregnancy.
But not every pregnancy develops normally. And not every dream becomes a reality. During my year of residency as a chaplain with Texas Health Fort Worth,I was assigned to the Women and Infants unit. With my anxiety about providing pastoral care to those who experience loss through a miscarriage, I wrote to family and friends and asked them to share with me stories, feelings, and grief associated with the loss of an infant. To my surprise I received many responses, some from family members who for years had silently been carrying this hidden grief . I soon learned that many women and men remain silent about the pain of a miscarriage. And, I learned how the pain of grief does not go away, even when it is ignored.
Through my ministry with grieving mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, and staff, I am learning the importance of recognizing the significance loss that occurs through a miscarriage. I encourage folk to mourn and to expect a variety of emotions. There may be numbness and shock initially. Seeing and holding the baby is an important option to give each person who experiences a miscarriage. For some, naming and blessing the baby are sacred rituals that help to recognize the child’s worth and spirit. In addition having a funeral or memorial service is an important option. If it is determined to have a funeral, then waiting until the mother is able to attend is important.
Rev. Denise Hill
Supervisor Candidate/Chaplain in Pastoral Care Department